We are unable to display your institutional affiliation without JavaScript turned on.
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Find using OpenURL

Buy This Issue

Natural Rights Theories: Their Origin and Development (review)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS 101 Even at the time when his zeal for reform had reached its highest point, Postel did not abandon his first love of languages. Through his friend Masius he interested Plantin in the publication of a polyglot Bible. His share of contributions was, as the author says, "enormous." Postel composed some provocative tracts under pseudo- nyms. After careful scrutiny of the surrounding circumstances, Kuntz suggests that the De sacro Christi triumpho, which names as author Jehan Boulaise, was actually written by Postel. In two appendixes the author describes some important manuscript material found in the library of the University of Hamburg. An excellent bibliography and index enhance the value of the book. The reader will eagerly await the second volume of Professor Kuntz's biography of Postel. ELISABETH FEIST HIRSCH Trenton State College. Richard Tuck. Natural Rights Theories: Their Origin and Development. New York: Cam- bridge University Press, 198o. Pp. viii + 185. $24.5 o, cloth; $9.95, paper. Richard Tuck's Natural Rights Theories: Their Origin and Development is a dense, thor- ough, but nonetheless very interesting little book on just what the title suggests. The focus of Tuck's attention, however, is not so broad as, say, that of Leo Strauss in Natural Right and History. The scope of the work can pretty well be indicated by listing the titles of his eight carefully chiseled chapters: "The First Rights Theories," "The Renaissance," "Hugo Grotius," "John Selden," "Selden's Followers," "Thomas Hobbes," "The Radical Theory," "The Recovery and Repudiation of Grotius." Two periods are prominent for natural-rights theories according to Tuck: the hundred years or so after 135o and the eighty years from 159o to 167o. In analyzing this history Tuck sees himself, according to his introduction, as defending three theses: (l) that C. B. Macpherson's claim (in The Political Theory of Possessive Individual- ism) to the effect that the basic character of seventeenth-century English political theory should be understood as "possessive" ought to be amended to take account of the treatment by some fourteenth-century theorists of rights as property; (9) that the traditional association of rights theories with liberalism should be amended in recog- nition of the fact that most "strong" rights theories are part of an explicitly authori- tarian theory; and (3) that Thomas Hobbes should not be understood, as so often has been the case, as an isolated figure but rather should be seen in the context of a number of contemporary writers, the most notable of whom is John Selden. With respect to the first thesis, Tuck goes to some considerable length into the medieval discussions of dominium, that is to say, "a claim to total control against all the world," as a basis for this contention, contra Macpherson, that "the process had begun whereby all of a man's rights, of whatever kind, were to come to be seen as his property." Featured here is an intriguing discussion of conflict between Dominicans and Franciscans over the parameters of dominium. "It is clear," Tuck argues, 102 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY that one of the objects of Aquinas' theory of natural dominium was to cast doubt on the life of apostolic poverty as practiced particularly by the great rivals 6f his Dominican order, the Franciscans. There was a long controversy over precisely this point, which raged from the late thirteenth through to the middle of the fourteenth century; its importance is that the late medieval natural rights theories undoubtedly grew out of it, and went on being an obligatory issue for rights theorists to discuss even into the early seventeenth century. [P. zo] "Briefly," Tuck continues, "what happened was that the leaders of the Franciscan order in the second half of the thirteenth century tried to evolve a systematic doc- trine of apostolic poverty, which would allow them to use all the commodities neces- sary for their daily lives without entailing that they had property rights, dominium, in them. Such a doctrine was obviously vital if the Franciscans were to be both highly organized and faithful to the ideals of their founder." Tuck's amending of Macpher- son takes him through a careful and thorough discussion of property as a right...

You must be logged in through an institution that subscribes to this journal or book to access the full text.


Shibboleth authentication is only available to registered institutions.

Project MUSE

For subscribing associations only.